A Russian citizen was killed in a shark attack in Egypt on Thursday, leading to mixed reactions on social media amid anti-Russia sentiment because of the war in Ukraine.
Egypt’s Ministry of Environment said that a beachgoer was killed by a tiger shark in the resort city of Hurghada on the Red Sea. Russia’s official TASS news agency identified the victim on Thursday as Russian citizen V. Yu. Popov, 24 years old. The victim was a permanent resident in Egypt and not a tourist, according to TASS.
A two-day ban on swimming, snorkeling and other water activities went into effect in the area on Friday morning, according to a Facebook post by the Egyptian environment ministry. In a later statement, the ministry said the shark had been caught.
A horrifying video of the attack widely circulated in international media on Thursday and Friday.
The news of a Russian being killed by a shark led to jokes on social media. Anti-Russian sentiment is high in the West due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. The jokes were condemned by some social media users.
the worst thing about the shark attack in #egypt is people cracking jokes and praising the shark because the victim he ate was Russian. You can hate the Russians politically but this... What happened to humanity?!?!
— Lina Daouk-Öyry (@LinaDaoukOyry) June 9, 2023
I'm a bit disgusted by jokes about the horrible shark attack in Egypt. Regardless of where the victim came from: imagine if this was your son, your brother, your best mate. Be a mensch, please.
— Oliver Grimm (@grimmse) June 9, 2023
Why it matters: Russian tourism is important to the Egyptian economy. Tourists from Russia and neighboring Ukraine make up about 40% beach vacationers in Egypt. Russian and Egyptian tourism officials held talks last year to discuss how to boost Russian tourism to Egypt in light of Ukraine war-related sanctions, Mohamed Sabry reported for Al-Monitor last June.
A February report by the Spanish travel data firm ForwardKeys said that “premium-class” travel by affluent Russians to Egypt more than doubled in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic figures.
A total of 700,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2021, according to the state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram.
Know more: Deadly shark attacks happen from time to time in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts. In 2010, a German tourist was killed in Sharm el-Sheikh, leading to wild conspiracy theories in Egypt that Israel was remotely controlling the sharks.
In 2015, another German tourist was killed by a shark in Al-Qusair. In 2018, a Czech tourist was killed north of Marsa Alam.
Last year, a Romanian and an Austrian were killed in a shark attack, also near Hurghada.